Tuesday Talk*: Can’t We Just Be Thankful?

For the past few years, somebody has offered a Thanksgiving column or op-ed about how some young, woke, genius should deal with drunken Uncle Erwin who doesn’t appreciate their purple hair, face tats and new pronouns to accompany their gender identify of delisexual. Are we finally past this?

For four unforgiving years, from 2016 to 2020, the problem was breaking bread with your political nemeses. Advice columns bristled with agita. How do you handle your Trump-loving father-in-law or the out-of-towners who show up in MAGA gear? “No baseball caps at the table” was USA Today’s Rule No. 7 for avoiding political food fights in 2019. In some other neck of the woods, aggrieved citizens despaired about their Occupy nephew storming in unshaven from his sophomore year at some college “back East.”

Or perhaps the issue was similar to Indiginous People’s Day, legally known as Columbus Day because of Italian Supremacy.

Also last year and just in time for its 400th anniversary — though one could hardly suggest the issue was new — some raised the pesky question of Thanksgiving’s celebration of genocide. This forced people intent on their pumpkin pie to confront the fact that Thanksgiving is, at root, a commemoration of conquest and subjugation. It is, after all, a day that the United American Indians of New England observe as a day of mourning. The original Native American “helpers,” the Wampanoags, have expressed regret for helping the Pilgrims out in the first place.

Must every holiday be tainted? Is there no salvageable American tradition where we can surround ourselves with our beloved family and friends and just, you know, be thankful?

Boiled down to its essentials, Thanksgiving is a holiday about shared gratitude. We could just think about the “thanks” in Thanksgiving for a change. That gratitude may have originally been intended toward God and those Native Americans who helped the newly arrived colonists survive — and for whom atonement may have been more appropriate. But even for us secular humanists, Thanksgiving offers a moment to appreciate whatever good this year wrought, even if by accident or chance.

What has become of a nation whose youth would rather wallow in the misery of the past, and turn it into the misery of the moment, than express thanks to those they love and for all the blessing they enjoy? Or do they love no one and feel ashamed that they are too privileged to have blessings while someone, somewhere does not?

Are we a nation incapable of being happy, being thankful, being positive about anything, or is everything terrible and then you tell Uncle Erwin to go fuck himself? Who are we? Who do we want to be?

And I am thankful for you, dear readers, who take time from your busy lives to read the posts at SJ. Reading takes effort. Thinking takes effort. Thank you, dear readers, for putting in that effort.

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.

26 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk*: Can’t We Just Be Thankful?

      1. Guitardave

        We love Beth, too. Happy thanksgiving, everybody.
        We all have flaws,(like me, carving up some Costello..:-)
        I guess none of us are born…

        Reply
  1. Maiq

    Something that’s occurred to me since I recently rewatched Fight Club with my daughter is the progress of our generation and comforts. From the book, ““We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.”

    The past few generations have worked hard to make the current ones safe, comfortable, well-fed, and entertained. Instead of enjoying the fruits of our labor and virtual utopia, they (we, in some cases) struggle against these comforts and look outward at the neighbor’s green or brown grass and ponder that instead. If ever there was evidence for the fallen nature of man, I think this continually dystopian rejection of paradise would be it.

    In the meantime, though, I’m grateful for your consistency and constancy as a continuing presence of sanity and principle. Sometimes things seem a little bleak, but having a corner of normalcy reminds some of us that we aren’t alone.

    Reply
    1. Fubar

      Something that’s occurred to me since I recently rewatched Fight Club with my daughter is the progress of our generation and comforts.

      On this Thanksgiving I am thankful for Jane Austen.

      Reply
  2. Mike

    At the risk of sounding completely cheesy, I’m thankful you were never sucked into the tweet thread trend and have continued the blog. Here’s hoping for many more years of you outliving social media platforms.

    Reply
  3. Mike V.

    I was an only child; and was only introduced to the joy of family fights at the holidays when I married into my wife’s family. I understood there couldn’t be a holiday get together without some Airing of Grievances. So, I learned to watch and keep my head down when my wife and her sisters started getting into it. My brothers-in-law and I would retreat to a safe distance and watch.

    They didn’t want suggestions on how to resolve the issues; or someone to point out that women of a certain age going at it over something that happened when they were 10 year olds was silly. They didn’t even really want an audience. There was just some primordial fragment of DNA that propelled the sudden reversion to acting like 3rd graders.

    So, if the Airing of Grievances begins, have another beverage, sit back and understand they are just predisposed to acting like children. If nothing else, blame it on tryptophan poisoning from too much food.

    And Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  4. CLS

    I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my mean-ass editor for allowing me to entertain y’all with my dumb jokes and stories each Friday.

    And for his contributions to my work–he’s the best comedy writing partner I could’ve ever asked for.

    And finally, but most importantly, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read the Friday Funnies and doesn’t boo me off the blawg.

    Reply
  5. Steven

    You beat me to my column tomorrow.

    What has become of a nation whose youth would rather wallow in the misery of the past, and turn it into the misery of the moment, than express thanks to those they love and for all the blessing they enjoy? Are we a nation incapable of being happy, being thankful, being positive about anything, or is everything terrible and then you tell Uncle Erwin to go fuck himself? Who are we? Who do we want to be?
    A: For the most part we are good people. But there are some who are paid to spread animosity in the name of their view of the “greater good”. And until recently, social media made these people famous. I am optimistic that things will change in the future.

    Or do they love no one and feel ashamed that they are too privileged to have blessings while someone, somewhere does not? They are. But it’s easier for them to post about it rather than volunteering at a homeless shelter.

    Reply
  6. L. Phillips

    Thanks, Admiral, for allowing those of us among the great unwashed to watch from the cheap seats. Having a few brain cells slapped around first thing in the morning is good for the soul.

    CLS, I too appreciate the Sheriff Roy stories and am renewing my request for consideration of a Sheriff Roy anthology. I understand that you have to dedicate time to keeping the kids fed, but I also feel that it would be a hit with most of the LE types I have worked with who can read. Every one of us knows a version of every character in Mud Lick.

    Reply
  7. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    I’m going with a simple “giving thanks” to the work you put into the blog, tickling my funnybone and my thinkbone with amazing regularity. You deserve waaaay more thanks for your work than any I might get for paying attention.

    And a side order of thanks to CLS for the … boundary pushing … humor and to your two YouTube Videoshareistas as well!

    Reply
    1. Hal

      Couldn’t have said it better, so “Plus Juan”.

      Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and as I usually close emails to friends, “Stay safe and stay sane”.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous Coward

    I’m thankful to live on the opposite side of the country from those I have political disagreements with. I will also be wearing my baseball cap from the Nez Perce on Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  9. B. McLeod

    On one side, you got people who are entitled to everything, and so logically don’t need to be thankful for anything. On the other, you got people who see everything going to Hell in a handbasket, and they can’t very well be thankful for that. In this context, a holiday tied to the notion of giving thanks is inherently out of place. It is probably time to just get rid of it and replace it with some innocuous holiday that everyone can support. In order to avoid disruption to the calendar, perhaps we could simply rechristen the existing holiday as “National Eating Food Day.”

    Reply
    1. Guitardave

      As a person who occasionally has to wait at malls for fares to shop, I got some bad news for ya, Bruce.
      It appears, at least in my neck of the woods, that NEFD is already occupying every other day on the calendar that isn’t already a holiday.

      It seems the phrase ‘that’s the way I roll’ has become a physical descriptor…

      Reply
  10. rxc

    I am thankful for having my parents guide me and keep me on the straight and narrow when I strayed. I am especially grateful for two things that my father taught me:

    1. Never feel sorry for yourself
    2. Never expect that anyone is ever going to take care of you.

    Reply
  11. KeyserSoze

    My thanks to all of you for this island of sanity.

    If our mean old editor will allow, good one from long ago. It has been a favorite since it was released (I refuse to date myself).

    Reply
  12. Jake

    Thanks for everything you do, brother Scott. And a special holiday thanks to Doctor SJ and the rest of your family for so consistently and graciously tolerating the time you take to help us all think a little more every day.

    Reply
  13. Dan H.

    I have been continually thankful for this blog since discovering you through a Conor Friedersdorf article in The Atlantic. So thanks to your wonderful blog, thanks to Conor and thanks to the Atlantic. I am forever grateful to all of you for so many reasons!

    Reply

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